The first day of class our prof gave each of us a Mead Composition notebook with tabs in it. She divided it up into sections for us to use by using the colored dot stickers, putting them where she wanted, and then making a table of contents for us. Our dots indicated “class notes/vocabulary,” “picture books,” “books of diversity,” “poetry,” “non-fiction”, “resources/websites,” “literature circles,” and “chapter books.” For the most part, we just jot down books we heard about in class that are either important and authors our classmates present. I guess it’s like a nicer looking five subject notebook, really, but as I am organizationally challenged it was nice to have that obstacle taken care of for me.
So, the really interesting thing we do in class is our lit circles. We get a choice of our books, and the book choice dictates what group you’ll be in. Sometimes we read the book together, sometimes we read parts by ourselves and come back to discuss. The important thing about lit circles is the discussion. Let’s face it, we like to talk about the books we read together. Why else is there so many blogs about books we’ve read? And wouldn’t kids benefit from that discussion even more? So, we talk about the book a lot, jot down good sections, etc.
The lit journal is something that is completely your own, but it too comes from the book. You start with a title page, and go from there. For Rifka, we made pages dedicated to her actual journey (map/list, whatever), characters, vocabulary, “goosebump” moments (lines you like). Again, up to the student, but some people put artwork in this section, write up awards the author has gotten, etc. It’s how you want to remember the book.
Another thing to do is let the kids choose roles of what they want to do in their lit circle. Be an artist? Pick cool passages? Make connections to other books or life as we know it? Cool deal. As long as the kids are involved in some way, it doesn’t matter what they do in their journals or circles.
So, other than the actual books I’ve been introduced to, this has been something I can use in the classroom. The prof warned us not to abuse it, though– apparently one of her former students used this in his class, and he makes them do specific things (like, 20 vocab words a day or something). Since reading is supposed to be fun, lit circles and lit journals are fun as well.